Testing positive for trimetazidine, Kamila Valieva is at the center of a doping scandal engulfing the Winter Olympics.
As a result of an appeal, the 15-year-old Russian figure skater will now be able to compete in Beijing 2022 despite a positive test.
Under the agreement that allows Russia’s athletes to compete despite the country’s Olympic doping ban, she is eligible to compete in the women’s singles event as part of the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee).
What is trimetazidine?
Trimetazidine, also known as TMZ, is a drug used to treat angina and other heart conditions. Increasing blood flow to the heart and limiting rapid fluctuations in blood pressure are the mechanisms by which it works.
Since 2014, trimetazidine has been on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) list of prohibited substances.
Athletes are not allowed to use it both in and out of competition as it is considered a “hormone and metabolic modulator”.
TMZ is typically consumed once or twice per day and is easily detected as a synthetic drug in tests.
Many believe it can improve physical efficiency, especially in the case of endurance sports, although opinions vary as to how long-lasting the effect might be.
Kelly Johnson-Arbor, a medical toxicologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, said the substance has the potential to improve athletic performance.
Theoretically, if you’re engaging in a highly exertional sport and you’re putting your heart under a lot of stress, it may help your heart function better.
Which athletes have used trimetazidine?
Athletes from Russia have tested positive for the substance before.
Nadezhda Sergeeva, a Russian bobsledder, tested positive for the drug two days before her race at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
China’s star swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang is the most high-profile case involving trimetazidine.
The drug led to his suspension after he tested positive for it in 2014. He said he was prescribed it to treat his chest pains.
TMZ is an example of a metabolic modulator similar to meldonium, which has also been implicated in allegations against Russian athletes for doping.
The Russian curler Alexandr Krushelnitckii handed back his bronze medal after testing positive for meldonium at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Tennis player Maria Sharapova was banned for 15 months after testing positive for meldonium in 2016.
Why is Kamila Valieva allowed to compete in Beijing in 2022?
Despite the protests of Wada and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Valieva, who tested positive for trimetazidine on 25 December, has been cleared to compete.
Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) provisionally suspended her last week, but that was lifted on appeal 24 hours later.
The Olympic authorities filed their own appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), asking the suspension to be reapplied before Valieva competes in the singles event on Tuesday.
The CAS conducted an ad hoc hearing by video call on Sunday night and released its decision on Monday afternoon, ruling that Valieva’s appeal was valid.